June 15, 2011
Yale University kills its study of anti-Semitism
As college campuses throughout the United States continue to be accused of anti-Jewish/Israel behavior, Yale University, with a legacy of anti-Semitism, joins the contemporary ranks of insensitivity to the Jewish people.
Less than one year after its very first conference of YIISA (Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism) Yale has decided to discontinue the widely acclaimed unique program, claiming that YIISA did not stimulate sufficient scholarship to warrant its continuance.
Scholars worldwide have vocalized great dismay characterizing YIISA’s closure as a setback to the study of anti Semitism and a substantial loss and blemish on Yale itself. Many surmise that whereas YIISA’s focus on Holocaust Jewish hate was an acceptable course of study, its attention to modern Islamic anti-Semitism/Israel was academic suicide.
The Jewish Star spoke with noted attorney, Harvard professor, author, YIISA presenter and Yale graduate Alan Dershowitz about the anti Israel/Jewish phenomenon on college campuses. (Full disclosure: David F. Nesenoff was a keynote speaker at the 2010 YIISA conference, “Global Anti Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity.”)
David F. Nesenoff: I attended the YIISA conference last year at Yale and was saddened to hear the news of its closing. I know you have had a relationship with Yale and the conference and wanted to hear your thoughts.
Alan Dershowitz: I am also very saddened to have learned the news. It’s the worst possible time for Yale to have terminated this excellent organization. The need to study the changing face of anti-Semitism around the world has never been greater. This is a serious subject of academic research and discourse. And the Yale center was an excellent center to do it. So I’m distressed and I hope it’s not a final decision.
DFN: Do you think it was for bad reasons? Yale is claiming that YIISA didn’t reach an academic level.
AD: That doesn’t satisfy me, at the least. I think it reached a high academic level. Normally if there is any concern, you sit down with the people and you give them an opportunity to set it right. This sounds too precipitous to me and unfair.